“…today was no ordinary day. It was the sort of day when pleasant things happen, when everything goes well and all the little details of everyday life take on a sort of brightness; and take on this brightness as a personal blessing, as if Heaven had sent them all — the sunshine, the lark’s song, the bursting buds — as a sort of birthday present to gladden one’s heart.”
~ D. E. Stevenson, from Music in the Hills
Photo credit: under my copyright, apples of gold
Every so often, when the sun is rippling fingers across glass front cabinets just so, reaching inside brisk white doors, tickling over teacups, and shadow-dancing here, there, like a tethered ship’s bobbing and reflecting water lights inside my home… I go back again…
Time is a traveling forward thing, but I am there once more, only as the grown up person I am today – a silent, invisible observer to days that have been and are no more. And I can hear their voices calling… breathe in the mingled aromas of toast slightly burning, the way she liked it, and coffee burbling…intriguing, yet bitter scents that prickle my nose. I can feel the softness of the breeze whispering through the curtains beside the 7, 8, 9-year old me. And hear the creaking of the parakeet’s swing as he rocks on his little trapeze…
“Jo-hn!” she calls over her shoulder, hands in sink bubbles, ever cleaning. She wipes them dry on the floral green apron over her dress, reaches for the percolating pot. “Your breakfast’s ready!”
He is whistling like no one else I know in a way that holds notes in vibrato, like his voice does when he’s singing opera – only without words – and as he comes in fresh from his morning shave, he touches her shoulder, reaches with both hands for the steaming cup she holds out. “Mmm…Mmmm!” He slurps it loudly, clowning for my benefit, and maybe to get her goat with the offending sound, because he knows he can… “Your Grandma sure makes the world’s best coffee!” he declares.
“Good morning, Pamela sweetheart!” the parakeet suddenly sing- songs out in his rickety voice, spurred by my Grandfather’s commotion. “Good morning, John!”
Papa slaps his hands on the table as if in amazement and I giggle at him… and that bird. How in the world does it say just the right words at the right time? Papa winks. “Gotta be careful what we say around him!” he whispers loudly.
I watch Grandma’s smile twitch as she slides a plate of egg and toast in front of Papa … for she has taught that old bird every word he knows, and his bright performance on cue is like a student’s virtuoso music to a piano teacher and maestro.
“John, John,” she tsks over the slurping. She doesn’t want me picking up habits. But we both know… it’s part of his love of being silly with me.
Then she is grabbing Papa’s shiny metal lunch box, shooing him out the door to work.. He is leaning down to kiss my cheek and his still feels a little prickly. I watch the red plaid of his shirt disappearing around the corner, hear the back door closing behind him, just around the doorway from the glass fronted cabinets that always catch my eye. I smile at the sunlight ballet that is streaming in on them from the window over the sink now, as if on ribbons, tiptoeing here, there…making glass and knobs glow…
Four in a row, above the tiled counters, these cabinets enchant me. For they are filled with brightly painted pink flowered pottery and best of all… six child-sized china teacups hanging on little hooks so that I can just see their sides, their little saucers leaning up behind them. Rainbows of watercolor pastels, with soft delphinium blue handles, large lemon yellow and pink and blue flowers on bright white background, squarish cups with rounded tops. Demitasse, Grandma calls them.
It means, small and delicate, she says… for little sips of coffee or tea on special occasions. Sometimes she makes Old Country dessert coffee for Papa and he drinks out of them in evenings… And, sometimes, she fills one with a little milk, and lets me sip from it.
“I love those cups, Grandma,” I tell her one day, dreamily. Picturing my own grown up home someday. I will have glass fronted cabinets too. I will arrange some pretty plates, and a pitcher, and hang some cups of my own.
“They will be yours someday,” she tells me then. “I will leave them to you.”
Tears mist behind my lashes, and I slip my arms around her aproned waist. “Not for a long time, though. Right, Grandma?”
She holds me close. “Just… someday,” she says.
It is something just between us… No one else seems to know.
And when someday comes, many years later… they mostly disappear. Mom and my aunt think maybe Papa sold them in the rush of moving…
Until one day, we find he still has two. One for Mom… one for me.
So pretty, so unusual. I’ve never seen another pattern like it. Staffordshire, it says on the bottom, but no specific name. I hold mine in my hands now, remembering. Hearing. Cherishing Grandma, and her love behind them.
And this pretty little English demitasse, this memory, it takes on a sort of brightness that never fades; this brightness as a personal blessing, as if Heaven had sent them all — the sunshine, the lark’s song, the bursting buds — as a sort of birthday present to gladden one’s heart…
Her smile and a teacup and a moment etched…like handwritten prayer… in the book of time.
The King’s signature all over them…
And in this case, one is more than enough treasure to have and hold.
© Pam Depoyan
Maybe it begins with a teacup… or something else…
Won’t you share (in comments) something about one of your
Teacup photos: mine, under my copyright (please do not copy without permission. See my copyright info button on the sidebar. 🙂 )
Sandi’s Teacup Tuesday
at Rose Chintz Cottage
Imperfect Prose at Emily Wierenga’s place